Policy and lived realities: Women’s cattle ownership in Botswana

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Erin Must
Alice J. Hovorka


This article aims to facilitate a dialogue on effective and targeted gender mainstreaming policy in Botswana that can simultaneously fulfill other national development goals. An examination of the circumstances and lived experiences of women cattle owners in Ngamiland demonstrates the importance of cattle to women’s lives as both a subsistence strategy and a means of personal and collective empowerment. This indicates cattle can further gender equality measures while simultaneously supporting rural livelihoods. Policies and programmes seeking to assist women with livestock acquisition are timely in terms of the Government of Botswana’s concurrent gender mainstreaming mandate and their development focus on both agriculture and sustainable livelihoods. Importantly, findings indicate an emphasis on improving communication and service delivery would help to achieve policy uptake by women in all other areas.


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